How a Half-Jewish German Spy Smuggled the Lubavitcher Rebbe out of Poland

When World War II broke out, Yosef Yitzḥak Schneersohn, the sixth rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch Ḥasidim, was in Poland, where he had been living since 1934. His American followers immediately commenced efforts to bring him to the U.S., hiring a Washington lobbyist to contact congressmen, White House officials, and even Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis for help. Eventually, an American diplomat requested the intervention of his German counterpart, who readily agreed. As Larry Price puts it, “The Roosevelt administration had decided to toss the Jewish community a bone to keep them quiet, and the bone was Rabbi Schneersohn.”

The one person in Germany with the authority to take a Jew out of Poland was the head of military intelligence, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris. Price continues:

Canaris called one of his officers, Major Ernst Bloch, a highly decorated soldier, into a meeting, [and] told him that he had been approached by the U.S. government to locate and rescue Rabbi Yosef Yitzḥak Schneersohn: “You’re going to go up to Warsaw and you’re going to find the most ultra-Jewish rabbi in the world,” [he told Bloch], “and you’re going to rescue him. You can’t miss him, he looks just like Moses.”

Major Ernst Bloch was a career spy. He’d joined the German army at sixteen, been severely wounded in World War I, and stayed in the army after the war. . . . Bloch was also half-Jewish. His father was a Jewish physician from Berlin who, like many other German Jews in that period, had converted to Christianity. Bloch’s mother was Aryan.

After locating Schneersohn—which proved far more difficult than Canaris predicted—Bloch escorted him and his family by civilian train to Berlin, and from there through Lithuania to Latvia, where the rebbe waited to receive a U.S. visa. Once again, his followers had to engage in intensive lobbying, this time to convince the anti-immigrant head of the State Department’s visa section, Breckenridge Long, to grant permission for the Schneersohsn to enter the U.S. Yet they somehow succeeded.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Chabad, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Holocaust, State Department, U.S. Foreign policy

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin